Oct. 8th, 2016 12:33 pm
keresaspa: (Gus Goose)
[personal profile] keresaspa
Such is the regularity with which I go to Edinburgh these days that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

In a rare moment of serendipity my flight over was so uneventful as to be worth no discussion. The bus journey into Edinburgh itself on the other hand was less smooth, being plagued by a poorly thought out route (whoever designed the intersection at Haymarket is a both a bam and an apparent devotee of M.C. Escher) and far too many roadworks, something currently blighting too much of the city. But no matter.

It was little after ten by the time I finally battled my way to the hotel (my usual haunt of the Cairn, for which I will no longer brook any substitute) and so inevitably I was too early to check in, resulting in the equally inevitable tramp down Leith Walk to view the seedy underbelly therein. After a fairly uneventful dander there and back I crossed over to the New Town to register my membership of the National Library of Scotland. I've been passing it for years and have been in several times but taking out membership had never occurred to me until recently. Silly me, because it was painless to say the least and, as I continue my resolute refusal to enter the mobile internet era, gave me free access to the internet for the duration, providing I was prepared to drag my aching bones up to it.

I made my way to the hotel to complete the check-in before venturing forth again to Newington but by then time was against me and a few of my destinations had already shut up shop. Disappointed, I wandered up and down the Royal Mile, a thoroughfare that I find increasingly punishing with age, before giving up the ghost and returning to my temporary home. A late evening run down to the Meadowbank Centre for my messages followed by a fish supper in one of my regular haunts on the London Road wrapped things up nicely.

Tuesday was intended to feature two matches and, given that they were nowhere near each other, it necessitated a bus day ticket. The aforementioned roadworks conspired to slow the traffic to a crawl across much of the city and rather disrupted plans. For my first destination I had a quick scoot around Portobello but, conscious of the time, it was a flying visit before I hauled arse to Ocean Terminal to visit the new HMV (the mighty Princes Street branch having sadly closed down to make way for a bloody Sports Direct in one of the most underwhelming replacements in history). Time beat me again however and it was midday before I decamped, leaving myself an hour to get across town to the Oriam Performance Centre to watch Hibernian Under 20s their Inverness Caledonian Thistle counterparts. But then I made a crucial error, getting on the 35 rather than the 11. Sure it headed towards Leith Walk as I wanted it to do but it did so via a tortuous route through all manner of estates so that by the time I got near the city centre it was twenty to one and I was still four miles from my destination. With a seven minute wait for the bus to Oriam I threw up my hands and abandoned the idea in disgust. Returning to the library a broken man I chanced upon the news that Hibernian Ladies team were to be in action the following night against their Bayern Munich counterparts in a Women's Champions League game and, having broke my women's football duck in the summer, I decided that might do as a replacement. With my bus ticket in hand I hot-footed it over to Easter Road and secured a match ticket before returning to finish my earlier business at Ocean Terminal. Hoping to squeeze in a run out to Corstorphine I was again let down by the buses, with the number one that I hopped taking another of those crazy circuit of Edinburgh routes. It was knocking on for five by the time I reached Corstrophine and respectable areas like that call it quits around that time. Curses!

But as I mentioned there were supposed to be two matches that day and I was still in plenty of time for the second so I hopped the poetically named Seton Sands bus to make my way to nearby Prestonpans. A legitimately long journey, I ended up in a dark village, the entrance to which was rather eerie with a bunch of abandoned factories and mines as part of museum/folk park thing that might be worth a future visit. Huge floodlights made the ground easy to find, although taking a short cut through the graveyard added to the eeriness of the whole thing. The match itself was a Lowland League affair between Preston Athletic and Dalbeattie Star, with the latter dominating proceedings and handing out a 4-1 slapping to their hosts. A shame really as Athletic had a nice set-up and were a friendly bunch, both in the ground and the general public in the village. If Prestonpans and Rosewell are representative then it seems friendliness is the norm in the villages that surround Edinburgh. Bully for them. Given the distance it was nearly eleven before I got my supper into me but it had been worth the effort as the match I did manage to attend was very enjoyable.

Having done bus day Wednesday was to be walking day. My initial destination was Stockbridge and, as mentioned in entries passim, it continues to be ridiculously unaffordable. I don't wish to harp on the same old thing (hey, it's what I've been doing since I started this rubbish) but charity shops get their goods for nothing and pay low rents, there is no reason to charge full price for things. Heck I think all sane people would baulk at paying a tenner for a second-hand Sezen Aksu in a proper shop, never mind a hokey. Get a grip.

A stroll out to Tollcross gobbled up some more time, where among the charity shops was one set up to benefit the Scottish Conservative Party. I kid you not. Oily bastards. And speaking of the Conservatives, I must digress slightly to say a few words on their conference. What a depressing slough that was. A frightening vision of a dystopian future and further confirmation of what a vile, racist shitehole England really has become these days. Isolationism, jingoism, sabre-rattling and militarism, the whole thing was about as 1933 as you could get. May talks about "new politics" after her ministers used their speeches to spew out all manner of xenophobic and warmongering bile, hinting apparently at some form of welfare chauvinism in which the very act of not being British is to be practically criminalised. Mind you, Cameron bleated on about happiness and yet his Premiership was defined by the crucifixion of the most vulnerable in society. And yet he looks positively lovely compared to May. Worse yet, with a conference that effectively redefined the Conservative Party as radical right-wing populist party of the Hans-Georg Betz model the English press hailed it as May appealing to Labour voters and being terribly moderate. What?! Still what can you expect from the English press, reflecting as they do a country prepared to ruin itself on the off-chance that there might be a few fewer foreigners and desperate to abolish any and every human rights protection that they have because ISIS are bad. Hell, these are the people who witnessed a woman murdered by Nazi terror, saw her memorial violated in front of her widower and children and yet still voted for the xenophobic option. Scum. I would be tempted to feel pity for Scotland forced to follow their hate-filled lead but they've been getting screwed over by England for centuries and yet when they had the chance to leave the buggers behind once and for all they meekly refused so Hell mend the lot of them. And suffice to say I didn't pay a visit to the Tory hokey. Didn't have a fire bomb on me.

Back to the script. Tollcross done I returned to Newington by way of another quick library stop. Newington is a good area with plenty going on although the narrow pavements are a pain in the arse given how packed it is. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done about that but I just thought I would mention it. The next hour was spent wandering around tat shops before the tiredness overwhelmed and I went back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Dawdling on the children's channels I even finally managed to catch an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the show so beloved of a certain section of young manhood. Christ the night, get a grip on yourselves. A bigger pile of old plop I don't think I've ever encountered. "Bronies", I ask you! Grow up, you foolish overgrown man-children. Now Hello Kitty - that's culture.

Having dismissed yet another cultural phenomenon from my narrow Weltanschauung I made my way to Easter Road, via Meadowbank for a quick sandwich from Poundland. Glamour. Taking my seat in a packed stand I looked at the two teams before me and realised a hiding was about to take place. The Bayern team were resolutely uniform, all being muscular, flat-chested giantesses, every inch the stereotype of German female athleticism, in contrast to their Hibernian opponents who all looked rather small, had a couple a bit on the tubby side and a few who were jiggling all over the manor, sports bras notwithstanding. It ended 6-0 but even that score flattered the gallant Hibees a tad as I don't remember them having a shot on goal and Bayern contrived to miss a penalty and fluff several other good chances. To paraphrase the old cliché it was women against girls. Fun nonetheless and fair play to Hibernian for giving it a go against their superior opponents. For my part it was also my first taste of European football since a match in the long, and thankfully, defunct Intertoto Cup back in 1996, which was nice. A haggis supper accompanied me home after a fine evening's chuckles.

The Glasgow trip is generally done in the middle of the week but football had got in the way and so it was left to Thursday. As night follows day the train is delayed but for once it was more or less on time and I got into town about half ten. All things considered it was a surprisingly uneventful day, with the usual motley crew of mad-eyed junkies and drunks largely conspicuous by their absence. I was able to conduct my business with the minimum of fuss and left in mid-afternoon pleasantly surprised at what had been a pleasantly unremarkable adventure. A dog on the train home was a nuisance and I must say their ubiquity on Scottish public transport is rather vexing, particularly as my tolerance of dogs wanes with age. Still, a minor gripe at best. With a bit of the day left I arsed around Princes Street for a while before concluding things with one last jaunt out to the delights of the Meadowbank Centre. It wouldn't be the same without it.

I had a fairly early flight yesterday so there wasn't much in the way of killing time to be done. For the most part I did a last scout around previously covered haunts like Princes Street, the Royal Mile and Leith Walk. I briefly toyed with the idea of a bus out to Corstorphine to scratch that itch properly but the hours weren't there and so I had to do without it this time (not to mention my usual trip to Musselburgh, for which I didn't find the time either). So off I went to another pretty textbook flight and back to smelly old Belfast.

Despite a generally rushed feel to things Edinburgh was its usual charming self and a fine time was had. It's like a comfortable old pair of shoes (so they tell me, I've never had comfortable shoes in my life) and I do love the city so as ever, always a pleasure Auld Reekie. Until next time.
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